Ahead of tomorrow and the beginning of The Cruellest Month, March has been all yes yes and oh boy by gum. After a long winter of rewriting, good news arrived like buses. In a single Monday morning, two double decker party buses of good news pulled up.
Bus One. My name appeared amongst the Highly Commended poets in Faber & Faber’s announcement of the winners of the Faber New Poets series. For those waiting, it was a long one and I am still checking the press release to make sure I haven’t made this up. My wildest congratulations to the winning poets – Rachael Allen, Will Burns, Zaffar Kunial and Declan Ryan – whose pamphlets will be out in the autumn. YES! Thrilling things, for sure.
And as if that wasn’t enough to have me high-fiving my way through some writerly celebration montage, fist pumping to Woman’s Hour and waltzing with a plant pot, etc. the phone rang again. Arvon were calling to let me know that after my interview, Clare Pollard had selected me as one of three poets to be part of the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme. The radio and the pot plant went out the window and I think I had to have a little sit down. Oh March!
I have just returned from The Hurst, where nine emerging writers – three poets, three novelists, three playwrights – began our year together with our Jerwood mentors with an intensive week of workshops and eating, late nights and bright mornings. It was incredible. I am enormously excited about the year ahead as I begin to work on my projects with Clare’s guidance – and I am privileged to be doing this alongside poets Deborah Stevenson and Ian Dudley, whose performances last Friday night were so beautiful, so good I almost ate my own hands. Also, workshops in movement with David Eldridge and narrative voice with Jenn Ashworth punched tiny holes all through my writing, and I am indebted to David in particular for making us speak only in vegetables for an hour. Mangetout, mangetout, mangetout – (thank you) – to all of you, and especially Arvon and the Jerwood Foundation for having me on board the bus.